Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Even My Toys Have Too Many Toys

This may come out sounding harsh, but none of my friends or relatives are ever allowed to buy my kids a stuffed animal again. Ever. I don't care how cute it is. I don't care how cheap it is. I don't care what holiday it's for. I don't care what charity it benefits. I don't even care how small it is.

If it has any of two of the following factors -- a face, artificial fur, bean stuffing, polyfill stuffing, whiskers, soft paws -- and comes into my house, it's out within 24 hours. Got that?

I have just staged a covert operation in my three year old's bedroom while she was distracted by her sister's doll house. Her stuffed animal collection was just reduced by one third. Then I snuck into my seven year old's room (it required less skill to get in there unnoticed, as she is at school), and did the same to hers. I was ruthless. First to go were any animals won at carnivals. Second were any given to them at garage sales by other desperate mothers trying to clean out their toy boxes. And finally, I steeled my heart and bagged just a few more, even if they were given by a beloved relative.

I still have 86 stuffed animals in my house. (Yes, I actually counted.)

What brought on the purge? First, besides the obvious fact that I can't close my kids closets, this morning Sophia had a mild meltdown. She received a new 18-inch doll for her birthday in February, and now is having a moral dilemma over the fact that her old doll has more stuff than the new doll. If she gives some of Eva's things (bean bag chair, laptop, Mary Janes) to Emma, will Eva feel bad? And will Emma feel bad that all her stuff is hand me downs?

I suggested two solutions to Sophia's problem. 1) That Emma get all the things Eva is tired of using, just like we gave Sophia's old stuff to her baby sister. Not good enough, Mommy.

So (2) Can we imagine that they were twins separated at birth and are so glad to now be reunited that they want to share everything equally? "What are you talking about, Mommy?"

At this point, I came up with solution 3, which was to remember that neither of these dolls has a brain and doesn't care anyway, now if you will excuse me, Mommy has to go make breakfast.

Scrambling eggs, I thought, Somewhere in the world there are children working in factories making the toys I will someday buy my children in a dollar bin. And upstairs in my house, my spoiled American daughter is in tears over how to distribute the wealth between inanimate objects. Her dolls own more than most people in this world.

So, change must come to my household. It's not Sophia's fault that she lives in America and has more stuff than she can manage. It's mine. I let it in here. I bought half of it. I meant well. But I must be more discerning. I can't keep buying stuff just to buy it, or because some holiday dictates I do so. In the trash bag hidden in my trunk right now there are also half the stocking stuffers I purchased less than six months ago at the 99-cent Store. And under my bed are still more little trinkets I bought for their Easter baskets. The jump ropes and bubbles can stay; all the other stuff is going back to Michael's.

My kids will always have more than they
need, and so will I. That is life in Middle Class America. But, God help me (and I mean this sincerely), I'm not going to have more stuff than I want.


  1. you're speaking my language and we have the same dilemma over here, dude. except most of our excess comes from the grandparents against my will = tricky business! but you're right; it's my fault because i'm letting it in. can't believe you still have 86 animals and that you witnessed a meltdown of that nature. really hilarious. and kind of not, in the same way i kind of feel sick every holiday at the parents'.

  2. Our grandparents are generally pretty conscious of not overloading the kids, for which I am grateful. But we are blessed with lots of family and friends and they apparently favor the plush toy genre.

  3. I went through this several years ago when, upon entering my garage, found several bags from Target that I had apparently "needed" but not so much that I actually brought them into the house and put them away. It was a wake up call for me and within 2 months we had downsized to a 2 bedroom apartment, given more than half of our stuff away (including furniture and appliances and yes... stuffed animals). It took the truck from the church 3 loads to get it all. It was such a wake up call to me.
    I later learned I had to do the same thing with my time and not allow too many things in my calendar.

    I have found that silently thinning out your children's toys is the best way to do it. A friend of mine has been doing this for years with her children barely noticing.

    Also, I think it's sweet that your daughter is concerned about the feelings of her dolls. There's a nice girl consideration you should be proud of as well!

  4. I did not know that you had a blog!!! But now, courtesy of FB, I do.
    I am very happy.

    Yes, 100% with you on the STUFF that our small people have. And that we have. Perpetual purging over here as well. It's exhausting....

    Three cheers for people who give us expendable, experiential gifts!